Connectivism, a Professional Toolkit, and a Side of Self-Awareness

As a result of our challenge this week, to find a relevant article with a fairly new date, I stumbled upon the most fascinating read regarding connectivism and what it could look like when applied to a curriculum (and it was dated 2014!).

I was hooked as soon as I saw the statement, “connectivism addressess many of the challenges identified in organizational learning and knowledge management as well as specifically focusing on the role of technology in learning.” (p. 81)  For this was an idea that brought me back to where we are in our discussions in Adult 641 and yet really caused some further reflection as to how it may tie into what I’ve learned over the past few years.  The idea of using technology to “facilitate networking, knowledge sharing, critical consumption of information, and continuous learning.” (p. 81) is one that is becoming more and more prevalent in the realm of adult learning in general.  Technology, after all, is noted by Siemens (2005) as what is beginning to define and shape our thinking.   An idea that we have discussed over the past few months in class.  But perhaps it was the statement found a few pages later, on pg. 83, that truly brought me back to how effective the two can be when paired together.  “Learners’ content, networks, and tools can be used to create Personal Learning Environments (PLE), which allow learners to control and manage their learning and set their own goals, to manage content and what is done with content, and to communicate with others as part of their learning.” (p.83)

The article went on in its justification by describing an undergraduate degree that has been created at an Australian based university.  The program uses connectivist principles to tie together courses in the realm of HR and OD, while utilizing technology and its various uses to increase the learning of the individuals that participate. There is a professional toolkit that they are provided with in the beginning, inclusive of a variety of different web-based tools and instructions on each one.  The goal is to encourage the students to then use the tools, discovering what works best for them to assist in building their own PLNs.  “The use of e-learning tools within the degree has also been informed by current practice in the field, whereby organizational learning practitioners should be using Web 2.0 applications such as social bookmarks, news feeds, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and discussion forums as well as social and professional networking publications such as LinkedIn or Plaxo as part of their personal learning network.” (p. 85)

All in all, this article made me realize that I really wish I had taken this class a bit earlier on in my studies.  In reflection, our professors have been forward thinking enough to also incorporate the resources touted in this article that should be part of a connectivist style of learning:

  • Online publishing tools (e.g. wikis and blogs)
  • Resource sharing tools (e.g. Google drive)
  • Communication tools (e.g. Google Hangout)
  • Tools for organizing information (e.g. Concept Mapping, Prezi)

But I’m also left to wonder what else may be out there that is still waiting to be discovered.  What tools, had I have known about them before, could have increased my own learning during my time at VCU?  And yet, while my introduction to the ideas and possibilities that the web can bring to learning was not a formal one, I would be remiss not to say that I am pleased to find that I have come across each one with thanks to my professors and classmates during my studies.  While the theory of connectivism may not be a fully accepted theory when discussing adult learning principles, I have become a believer and appreciate what it has added to my own learning journey.  So here’s to the WWW and I’m off now to work on my own PLN.

***Interested in reading the full article?  Check it out: diigo.com/05deyf

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About hdjackson

Graduate Student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying the theoretical world of Adult Learning along with its relation to Human Resources Developement. View all posts by hdjackson

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